Sorabh Pant talks about life after fatherhood and what he finds most fascinating about Kolkata
In this interview he opens up about filtering jokes according to audience preferences, why he loves performing in the City of Joy and how fatherhood has changed him as a person
One of the leading stand-up comics of contemporary India- Sorabh Pant was recently in the city for a performance at the Hard Rock Café. From considering stand-up as comedy as a side hustle, to opening for Vir Das, to becoming one of the most-watched funny men in the country, Sorabh has definitely travelled a long way through a path seldom taken. In this interview he opens up about filtering jokes according to audience preferences, why he loves performing in the City of Joy and how fatherhood has changed him as a person.
How did you venture into stand- up comedy?
I started off as a TV writer, working with multiple leading TV channels and shows. Eventually I started opening shows for Vir Das, which went on for about a year and a half, which led me to my individual path over time and now as you can see both Vir and my careers are running neck to neck.
Comedy not being the usual career choice, was it challenging to pursue your passion?
I have always been some form of a writer right from college itself as I found myself writing for magazines, and random columns on popular dailies and weeklies. I remember writing plays, which I now consider as pretty bad ones back in college. Naturally, I worked as a writer on multiple avenues for quite some time. When it comes to comedy as a career choice, I think it is more about how parents reacted to the decision than how challenging the decision was personally. Initially when stand-up comedy happened, it was more of a side hustle and I was still making most of my money as a writer. However, when my parents and family realised I was making a good amount of money from both these odd and unconventional career paths, they were taken quite by surprise. I was never a good student and was highly unfocussed except for when it came to performing on stage. I now think, I was more surprised than anybody else when I started realising that stand-up comedy can truly be a bread-earning career option in itself.
What makes you keep coming back to Kolkata?
The Calcutta Crowd has always been great, and I have always found the city to be quite interesting. Each time I step out when I am in the city, be it for a walk or some chore, there’s always a story that I come back with. It is quite a fascinating aspect that the city has, along with the Bengali culture in itself. Moreover, the audience there is always aware of what is happening in politics and around the world.
Who are some regular comedians on your watch-list?
My watch-list changes every few months, however the first ever comedian who fascinated me was definitely Johnny Lever as he was the first comedian I ever saw. There’s a bunch of other comics I keep going back to such as Russell Peters, Chris Rock, Norm Macdonald and Mark Normand.
While curating a show, what are some parameters you adhere to?
Honestly, it completely depends on the type of show I am doing. For instance, a corporate show requires one to do some research on them while a public show gives us a little more liberty to test out new content so as to check what is clicking with the audience.
How has fatherhood impacted you as a comedian?
One of the biggest responsibilities that has come in with being a father is mostly financial. Being a freelancer, one is usually working week to week but being a father has made me do a lot of work that I wouldn’t even consider otherwise. Another thing I have discovered about myself is that I love entertaining my children, and being a father has made me more empathetic towards people. It has also made me embrace aspects that make me laugh, for instance just being silly because that’s what my children enjoy.
What is keeping you busy these days?
I am working on two separate podcasts, and a show called Three Drinks Later where comedians are just sharing a few drinks and talking nonsense. First episode of this show came out just yesterday. I am also doing a lot of content around cricket on YouTube, and in fact my Twitter is only active when a match is on. My next show and a few tours are also brewing around the corner.